Mongolians have always had “pets”.
It’s just not what most people are used to in terms of having a pet. Common pets include sheep, goats, horses, camels, yak, cattle, reindeers and of course the dog. But not the fluffy cuddly dogs we adore from movies and western lifestyle, more like guard dogs and sheep dogs that follow their masters out of the yurts to eat their poop. Yep. True story. Probably still happens out there.
Sometimes when visiting nomadic families, there will be cats that live inside the yurts with the people. Cats were probably introduced from the Russians. Cats have only recently picked up popularity among Mongolians, but most still do not like cats because of absurd superstitions that cats hate their owners, will eat babies, and curse whoever they come across.
I have a cat. Before having a baby, it was my fur baby. Still is though. I adopted her from a girl who had a litter of stray kittens on a Facebook group dedicated to cat owners with over 51,000 members. Link here. You can see some of their public posts. Although all in Mongolian, there are some pretty useful information there. Maybe you can make out what’s happening from the pictures?
Although the concept and acceptance of keeping pets have evolved, there are a still a lot of aspects of keeping pets that are underdeveloped. One of the biggest issue is spaying and neutering. Many citizens don’t see the need for it especially for their male dogs, or male cats.
In the Cat Lovers group mentioned above, members are constantly urging others to spay and neuter, explaining the benefits of the small surgery and the consequences when we don’t.
Another issue is the proper handling of the city’s strays. There’s now a protocol in place to shoot any stray dogs between the hours of 3am – 6am, especially in the ger districts. This is supposedly the “right” way to handle the growing number of stray dogs…but what century are we living in? However it can be argued about other methods of extermination is too costly, too troublesome, time consuming etc., But people have voiced their concerns that these “hitmen” knowingly shoot dogs with collars, or on private properties just to earn more count, as one dog is worth 7500 MNT.
There is constant argument on animal groups on Facebook about the humane ways of taking care of the stray dog problem. One side argues that we need to do better, while the other argues there are bigger problems to tackle as a society than stray dogs. I guess this sort of argument is everywhere around the world, and not just solely on dogs…but in general preventing cruelty to animals.
An NGO dedicated to animal rights called Lucky Paws, link here has been doing efforts to educate people about spaying, neutering, adopting strays, and giving helping to share information to its members about animals in need. Members also seek and give advice about certain issues about pets too. Certain events are also held by the NGO to raise awareness to issues like mentioned above.
Animal rights have a long way to go here, but at least we are somewhat going in the right direction. Especially with the availability of pet supplies. Back in 2003, when I had a guinea pig (came all the way from the states with us actually), I remember it was extremely difficult to find guinea pig food, we had to go around the markets that sold food for herd animals and pick out some hay and other sorts of grains that “Bushy” might eat. Veggies we bought from the marketplace and if anyone went abroad the only thing I would ask for is guinea pig food from the pet stores.
But now the availability of not just guinea pig food, but other supplies for other not so common pets have become better like for rabbits, hamsters, snakes, birds… cat and dog supplies are widely available, go into any supermarket to find them. (Insert picture of selections here)
Great vets located in UB:
Great pet stores: